As I said yesterday, there are still a few interesting names left on the free agent market. When I looked through the list of hitters, there were some intriguing players that didn’t really fit well with the roster. Today, I’ll be looking through the list of pitchers. Ultimately, much of the same will remain true, particularly with the budget situation shockingly not changing in the last 24 hours. They are still only about $5 million under the luxury tax threshold, a mark they are planning to stay below all year. With that said, let’s look through some of the more interesting names that remain
Note: I would like to mention that this was all going to build up to Boone Logan, who would’ve been the most intriguing name to add. In fact, this entire two-part series was originally just going to be a post on how the Red Sox should take a look at the lefty. Stupid Cleveland ruined it.
As with the position players, the Red Sox are already full up on starting pitchers. It’s not exactly breaking news that they already have six guys fighting for the five rotation spots, and one is going to be left out. Bringing in another name doesn’t really make a ton of sense at this point in time. However, if one or more of them goes down with an injury during spring training and one of the following names remains unsigned, it could be time to revisit this topic. Plus, if Eduardo Rodriguez doesn’t start the year in Pawtucket’s rotation for whatever reason, they could probably use another starter in Triple-A.
The most intriguing name remaining on the market is Jason Hammel. The righty has been a consistently solid starter over the last few years, and out of respect the Cubs declined his option for 2017 to let him find a more guaranteed role and better deal on the open market. That has backfired, as he still is without a team. He doesn’t really fit with any of Boston’s criteria in looking for a pitcher, though. He’s certainly too good to take a minor-league deal, particularly one that has such little guarantee of an eventual roster spot as one would with the Red Sox. He also doesn’t figure to be on the market for much longer, so he’s out of play for the injury case.
That brings us to Doug Fister, who might fit in at least one way. For a while, he was one of the more underrated pitchers in baseball, relying on precise control, weak contact and solid strikeout rates for success. All of that disappeared last year, though, as he was disappointing without reaching the point of implosion for Houston in 2016. As a 33-year-old coming off his worst season, he might have to wait a little bit longer to find a suitor. That could put him in play if the Red Sox suffer an early injury. I’d put the odds on Fister signing in Boston as miniscule, but slightly less miniscule than those of Hammel.
Now, we get to a couple of guys who probably will have to settle for minor-league deals in Mat Latos and Tim Lincecum. Both of these pitchers have had significant major-league success in the past, but those days are behind them. Latos has been one of the worst starters in the league over the last two years, losing most of his strikeout abilities. He also spells his first name like an idiot. On the plus side, he’s still on the right side of 30 and has a cat named Cat Latos. That could be enough if he can’t get a deal better than a spot in Pawtucket’s rotation to be in a battle with Kyle Kendrick as the team’s break-in-case-of-emergency option.
Lincecum largely falls in the same boat. Although he’s a little older, he still has some shine as a two-time Cy Young award winner. It’s not enough to warrant a major-league deal, of course, but as a shot in spring training it could be.
While the starters depth is mostly set already, that can never really be true of bullpen depth. When you think there’s already enough depth on the roster, that usually means you can still use one or two more arms. In Boston’s case, it looks like they are set from the right side, so they definitely won’t be looking at major-league deals. From the left side, things are a little more comfortable.
We’ll start with the right, though, and with a trio of players who are almost certainly unattainable unless something crazy happens. That group is Joe Blanton, Joe Smith and Sergio Romo. All three of these guys are accomplished relievers who should be able to find significant roles somewhere in the league. Yes, even Blanton. The only hope for one of these players is if the reliever market just falls asleep until they get so bored that they just sign a minor-league deal.
Then, there’s Yusmeiro Petit and David Hernandez. These two represent the next tier of right-handed relievers who are good enough to fetch major-league deals but may be left on the outside looking in in this year’s market. Petit has been a favorite of mine for a few years now, but he had a rough year with the Nationals in 2016. Still, he’s a multi-inning arm who can spot start at times and strike batters out. Hernandez actually started last year as Philadelphia’s closer — that says more about the state of their bullpen last April than it says about Hernandez — but he lost that role quickly. Still, he has big-time strikeout stuff and could be fun on a show-me spring training stint a la Carlos Marmol. Chances are he can find a better situation, though.
Finally, we get to the lefty. Again, this was going to be lefties but then Boone Logan fled to the Cleve. That just leaves Javier Lopez. Yes, that Javier Lopez. He’s still around and is still pretty damn effective as a LOOGY. Unfortunately, he is 39 and has shaky-at-best peripherals. He’s not worth a major-league deal, but if possible it could be worth it to throw him into the Fernando Abad/Robby Scott/Luis Ysla mix this spring.